A Reader’s Tears – A. Bogel

Sometimes a great book makes us feel the loss of what could have been – a dream, a baby, a future. Several years ago I read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s excellent Abraham Lincoln biography Team of Rivals. I knew the basic outline of his life from history class; American students know that story’s sad ending. But Goodwin’s version astonished me, making me feel, for the first time, an overwhelming sense of how much was lost that night at Ford’s Theatre – by his family, yes, but also by the nation and the world. [I had a similar experience last year while reading Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln.]

Goodwin demonstrates how important Lincoln was to the cause of what was right, painting a vivid picture of what he accomplished in office, of what he was carefully working toward after the Civil War, and of why the man himself was desperately needed. And then they killed him. When she described what happened that awful night in Ford’s Theatre and across the city, I felt like I was there, and for the first time I understood the scope of the disaster and how it affects me even now. I didn’t expect her history to make me weep, but it did – because Goodwin made me feel its weight.

Sometimes a book prods you to grieve with its characters. You’re immersed in the story, so much so that you feel what they’re feeling. When a beloved character experiences loss – of someone they love, of a friendship, of their innocence – you feel their pain. When he grieves, you grieve with him. Sometimes you grieve the characters themselves; they die, you feel like you’ve lost a friend, and you weep.

…I don’t relish crying over a book, but I’ll say this; it’s not easy to earn a reader’s tears – and if an author writes well enough to earn mine, I’m in.

Pass the tissues. It’s time to read.

rather-be-reading-bogel-2018Taken from a new summer read I recently bought at Baker Book House. In I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, lifetime reader Anne Bogel reflects on the paradoxes of readers and bibliophiles like herself. The chapters are short and packed with great insights and encouragements about the literary life – the highs and lows, the tears and triumphs of reading.

The above quotation is taken from her third chapter, “I’m Begging You to Break My Heart” (pp.32-36).

If you think this is only a woman’s reaction, think again. Men can and do experience such emotions through reading too, even if we don’t want to admit it. Just this weekend I was brought to tears through reading a section of Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance (a powerful section where he treats the death of his “Mamaw” [grandma] who had had such a profound influence on him.) Ah, yes, the power of words and stories are great, and it is part of the experience of reading to be taken in by them.

Published in: on July 29, 2019 at 10:36 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Wonder of Grace: Chosen by Grace

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.- Ephesians 1:4

…This doctrine [God’s sovereign, eternal election of some sinners to be saved in Christ Jesus] is of fundamental importance and of great practical significance
Quite properly, it has been called the cor ecclesiae, the heart of the church. The whole system of the doctrine of salvation by grace is built on it as its foundation, stands or falls with this truth. If you deny or distort this basic truth, you may, perhaps, inconsistently continue to speak of salvation by grace for a time, but ultimately you will surely lose all the great doctrines of salvation. Deny it, and you cannot maintain the truth of total depravity: for if to some extent you present salvation as contingent upon the will and choice of the sinner, you must ascribe to him some remnant of goodness in virtue of which he is able to make the right determination and choice. Refuse to accept the doctrine of sovereign election, and you must ultimately deny the truth of vicarious atonement. For if Christ’s death is substitutional, those for whom He died are certainly justified and reconciled to God. But it is evident that all men are not saved. Hence, you must choose between two alternatives: Christ represented the elect, or in His death He did not really pay for the sins of those for whom He died. Election and vicarious atonement are inseparably connected. The same is true of the relation of election and all the blessings of salvation which are bestowed on us in Christ Jesus our Lord, of calling and faith, of justification and sanctification, of hope and love, of preservation and perseverance. Either these are all blessings of grace, and then they flow from sovereign election; or they depend upon the will and work of man, and then they are not of grace. The doctrine of election is of central importance for the whole system of the truth of salvation.

But this truth is also of immense practical significance. It is the indispensable condition for all true religion. For all true religion is God-centered. And this is true only of that religion that has its ultimate source in God’s sovereign election. For it alone confesses that God is all and that man is absolutely nothing. There remains nothing for man to boast. All his own goodness, good will, works, religion, piety are cast into the dust as having no value before God. For we are saved according as we are chosen. And we are chosen, not because we distinguished ourselves from others, not because of any goodness or willingness on our part, but solely because it pleased God to distinguish us, and only by grace. God is all! We bring nothing to Him, He gives all to us. We have nothing to boast. Let Him that glorieth glory in the Lord!

Besides, this doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation and is the source of all true comfort and assurance. It dare not be objected to this doctrine that this truth offers no comfort to poor sinners: for nothing could be farther from the truth. True, this doctrine has no consolation for the impenitent wicked. But we ask: is there any form of presentation of the gospel that could possibly comfort the wicked and ungodly? There is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked! But is there a more comforting gospel than that of God’s gracious election for the penitent, the seeking soul, the hungry and thirsty, the weary and heavy laden? He may be assured that he will be received and be saved: for his penitence, seeking, hunger and thirst, are the fruit of electing grace. Moreover, when we look about us in the world, full of confusion and madness, of corruption and apostasy, is there any assurance anywhere, except in the truth of God’s sovereign election, that His work shall not fail, that His church shall surely be gathered, and His kingdom shall be established and manifested in glory? Salvation is of the Lord: it shall surely be accomplished even unto the end! Let all the powers of darkness rave and rage and rise up against the living God and His Anointed, we know that even their ravings and fury can only be subservient and conducive to the realization of God’s sovereign purpose of salvation. The gates of all hell cannot overwhelm the church! Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Taken from chapter chapter 2, “Chosen by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.18-25. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Published in: on July 28, 2019 at 7:21 AM  Leave a Comment  

Significant Additions to the PRC Seminary Library – 2nd Quarter 2019 (Part 1)


At the end of June, I completed the second quarter list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for this year. At their July meeting the TSC (Theological School Committee) received a copy for their information, and I also send it out to the faculty and students so that they can keep abreast of new titles.

But the list is of value to you too, I believe. As noted before, part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read also. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers. Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

Once again we will divine the list into two parts. In this list we will look at four (4) sections: biblical studies, commentaries, church history, and creeds and confessions. Hoping you find something of interest to read yet this summer or in the fall. 🙂

Image result for reformation commentary on scripture psalms

Biblical Studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical Theology

  • Let’s Study (Banner of Truth): Philippians, S. Ferguson (1997)
  • New Century Bible Commentary (Eerdmans): The Gospel of Matthew, David Hill, 1981 (reprint)
  • Preaching the Word (Crossway): Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory / Philip Graham Ryken; R. Kent Hughes, 2015.
  • Reformation Commentary on Scripture (IVP Academic):
    • Psalms 73-150. H. J. Selderhuis, ed.; Scott M. Manetsch; Timothy George, 2018
      (vol.8, OT).
    • Romans 1-8. Gwenfair W. Adams; Scott M. Manetsch; Timothy George, 2019
      (vol.7, NT).


Image result for sermons on 2 timothy calvin

Other Commentaries, Individual:

  • Glaphyra on the Penteteuch, Volume 2: Exodus Through Deuteronomy. Saint Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, c. 370-444. ; Nicholas P. Lunn, translator; Gregory K. Hillis.
    Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2019.
  • Ephesians: Free to Be One. Stephen Motyer; Ian and Stephen Gaukroger Coffey. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996 (Baker Bible Guides)
  • Ephesians. Geoffrey B. Wilson. Edinburgh, Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, c1978,
  • Sermons on 2 Timothy. Jean Calvin, 1509-1564; Robert White, Transl. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2018.
  • Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An Exposition of the Epistles of St. John. George G.
    (George Gillanders) Findlay, 1849-1919. Minneapolis, MN: James and Klock, 1977.
  • The Epistles of St. John. Alfred Plummer, 1841-1926 (reprint). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980 (Thornapple Commentaries).

Interpreting Eden

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

  • Interpreting Eden: A Guide to Faithfully Reading and Understanding Genesis 1-3. Vern S. Poythress; D. A. Carson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
  • Knowing God Through the Old Testament: Three Volumes in One. Christopher J. H. Wright. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019.
  • The Lost World of the Torah: Law as Covenant and Wisdom in Ancient Context. John H. Walton; J. Harvey Walton. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019.
  • Prophetic Song: The Psalms as Moral Discourse in Late Medieval England. Michael P.Kuczynski; Edward Peters. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, c1995.
  • Interpreting the Prophetic Word: An Introduction to the Prophetic Literature of the Old Testament / Willem. VanGemeren. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1990.
  • The Risen Redeemer: The Gospel History from the Resurrection to the Day of Pentecost.  F. W. (Friedrich Wilhelm) Krummacher, 1796-1868. ; John T. Betts, tr. New York: R. Carter & brothers, 1863/2015.

The Collected Prayers of John Knox  -     By: John Knox

Church History, General and Biography

  • Early Christian Martyr Stories: An Evangelical Introduction with New Translations. Bryan M. Litfin. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014.
  • The Collected Prayers of John Knox. John Knox; Brian G. Najapfour, ed.; R. Sherman Isbell. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • The Complete Works of Matthew Henry: Treatises, Sermons, and Tracts. (2 vols.) Matthew Henry, 1662-1714. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, c1979, 1997.
  • Dutch Heritage in Kent and Ottawa Counties. Norma Lewis; Jay de Vries. Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub., c2009 (Images of America)
  • Scotland Ablaze: The Twenty-Year Fire of Revival That Swept Scotland 1858-79. Tom Lennie. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 2018.

Image result for grace worth fighting for hyde

Creeds, Confessions, History of

  • The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits. R. Albert Mohler. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2019.
  • Grace Worth Fighting For: Recapturing the Vision of God’s Grace in the Canons of Dort. Daniel R. Hyde. Lincoln, NE: The Davenant Press, 2019.
  • Grace Defined and Defended: What A 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us About Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God. Kevin. DeYoung. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
  • A Place Like Heaven: An Introduction to the Synod of Dort. Samuel Miller; Harrison Perkins. Madison, MS: Log College Press, 2019.
Published in: on July 25, 2019 at 10:08 PM  Comments (1)  

Being a Discerning Listener of the Preaching

expository-listening-ramey-2010It has been a few months since we posted from the book on listening carefully to the preaching of God’s Word. Let’s return to Expository Listening tonight by looking at some thoughts from the next chapter.

…In other words, like their evil master Satan, the appearance of false teachers is deceiving. They disguise themselves as true shepherds, pastors, teachers, elders, and leaders in the church.

If a hungry, ferocious wolf jumps the fence into a flock of sheep, all of them will notice and scatter. But if he walks through the gate impersonating a shepherd, it will be difficult for the sheep to tell it is a wolf. The only way the sheep can discern whether he is a shepherd or a wolf is by listening to his voice. Jesus said [here Ramey quotes John 10:2-5].

As one of Christ’s sheep, you need to have your ears trained to differentiate between the voice of a true shepherd and the voice of a stranger so you know whom to follow and whom to follow after. You must be able to recognize wolves when you hear them since they are disguised as Christian preachers and teachers, Christian authors, Christian counselors, Christian singers, etc., who are being used by Satan to deceive and devour Christ’s flock. It is both sad and scary that so many Christians today are naively following the voices of strangers and being led astray from the truth of God’s Word.

At this point the author shows how the same threats were found in Paul’s day and how he wrote to Timothy to instruct him in how to deal with these false teachers:

Paul urged Timothy to silence these false teachers by upholding the biblical truths they were seeking to undermine. In verses 3-11 of Paul’s first letter to the young pastor Timothy, he explains how to sift them out. What’s needed is a careful evaluation of the basis of their teaching, the result of their teaching, the focus of their teaching, and especially the gospel they are teaching. These are questions you can apply to any teacher you come across.

And these are the questions as he phrases them in the book:

  • Is their teaching based on the Word of God? Is it consistent with what the Scripture says?
  • Does their teaching produce growth in godliness? Is it unifying and edifying to the body of Christ?
  • Do they humbly seek to honor God and help others? Is it free of charge and free from financial appeal?
  • What is their gospel message? Do they explain it clearly and correctly? Is it works-based or God-glorifying grace?

Taken from chapter 5 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Tim.1:3-7 and is titled “The Discerning Listener” (pp.69ff.).

Important admonitions and applications for all of us who hear the Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Shall we be more aware of our calling to be discerning listeners?

Becoming Savvy with Sentence Structures: Part Three

Last month for our ongoing grammar lessons we looked at Part 2 of GrammarBook.com’s mini-series on “Savvy Sentence Structures.” With a new month here, we ought to finish that series by examining the third part of that series. This part focuses on grammar and punctuation, but the first part reviews the four kinds of sentence structure:

  • Simple sentence
  • Compound sentence
  • Complex sentence
  • Complex-compound sentence

If you want to review these sentence forms again, click on the link below and read the first part of this post. But here is the rest of it – how to use these four types in your own writing. You will find that just as you benefit from and enjoy reading a variety of sentence structures, so you can also learn to use this variety in your own writing for other’s benefit and enjoyment.

To complete our review of sentence structures, we’ll next want to consider how to use them together to achieve greater style in our writing.

Applying the Four Types

Good prose skillfully mixes the four sentence types. It also varies their lengths.

Consider the following text using all simple sentences:

Bernice loves the rodeo. Her father was a rancher. Their family had many animals. She grew up around horses. Her father often let her ride them. She became very comfortable with them. In time she could even stay on the broncos. She also learned to rope calves.

This format is forthright, but an overuse of or overreliance on one sentence type can make writing choppy and droning. Let’s see how compound structures can help break the monotony.

Bernice loves the rodeo [simple]. Her father was a rancher, and their family had many animals [compound with conjunction]. She grew up around horses; her father often let her ride them [compound with semicolon]. She became very comfortable with them, and in time she could even stay on the broncos [compound with conjunction]. She also learned to rope calves [simple].

A little bit better. Now let’s look at adding a complex sentence for enhancing effect.

Bernice loves the rodeo [simple]. Because her father was a rancher, their family had many animals [complex]. She grew up around horses; her father often let her ride them [compound]. She became very comfortable with them, and in time she could even stay on the broncos [compound]. She also learned to rope calves [simple].

Now let’s insert a compound-complex structure to complete our transformation from a mechanical, repetitive paragraph to a more stylized one with all four sentence types.

Bernice loves the rodeo [simple]. Because her father was a rancher, their family had many animals [complex]. She grew up around horses, and her father often let her ride them, which made her very comfortable with them [compound-complex]. In time she could even stay on the broncos; she also learned to rope calves [compound].

Crisp composition can take many forms. You might have a short paragraph of all simple sentences followed by one with a few complex sentences. You can start content with two compound sentences and finish it with a compound-complex sentence. The possibilities are endless: You need only understand the four types and practice their combined sound and flow to become a master of melodious writing.

Source: Becoming Savvy with Sentence Structures: Part Three – Grammar and Punctuation

Published in: on July 17, 2019 at 10:58 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Little (but Large) Treasures of Summer



Granddaughter Chloe and daughter Kim enjoying some phone pics.


My father playing a round last Saturday, the day before his 86th birthday. He still hits them well!


Grandson Trey (right) with a neighbor friend, selling lemonade in the hot July weather last week.


Some more day lilies and Asian lilies around our home.


A relaxed Prof. Kuiper reading out back at seminary.


Our bi-weekly beanbag tournament – that’s grandsons Gavin and Graeson. Look out, that bag’s coming right at you!


A pot of wild flowers at the entrance to seminary.


A new (to me) “Little Free Library” I recently discovered on a bike ride in the neighborhood.


Grandson Gale all excited to play with the dog’s ball thrower.




A little time at the pool on the 4th of July. That’s grandsons Logan on the slide and Trey on the diving board.


A summer thunder storm with great wind lines.


Granddaughters Chloe (oldest) and Yvette (youngest)




A summer evening in Montague, MI. Golf, dinner, rootbeer floats, and a sunset on Lake Michigan. Hard to beat.


We hope you are having a beautiful summer too.

Published in: on July 15, 2019 at 11:01 PM  Leave a Comment  

“This is why I gave them my Sabbaths.”

No more beautiful, inspiring, or pleasing idea can be repeated on this subject [of the sabbath] than the one that Ursinus expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism: ‘That all the days of my life I turn from my wicked ways, allow the Lord God to work in me by his Spirit, and thus begin the eternal Sabbath already in this life.’

Accordingly, the Sabbath is based (1) on the work of God the Father and our creation, (2) on the work of God the Son and our salvation, and (3) on the work of God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification. Its fullness is captured in this threefold summary. For life here on earth, the shadow of the three-in-one Trinitarian God falls across the Sabbath.

Consequently, it needs to offer you rest from the pressures of this world. That’s first. In the name of God you need to be properly able to stop the workday activity of this world every seventh day. …You need to restore the strength you have lost. And you need to receive from God once again the resources you need for your daily work and efforts….

Then it also needs to offer you rest from the attacks of the Devil. That’s second. In the name of God you need to be equipped to escape bondage to the works of the Devil. That’s when you enter the Year of Jubilee, your year of liberation by the atoning work of your Surety and Redeemer.

And also, it needs to offer you rest from the powerful urges of your own heart as well. That’s in the third place. In the name of God you need to be equipped to give up bondage to your own evil heart. You need to abandon the empty way of living that serves no useful purpose. You need to pull back from drinking from springs that never provide pure water. You need to enter that blessed, completely glorious rest that consists of letting go of self so that God’s work may be completed in you through his Holy Spirit.

This in the full sense of the word is the Sabbath of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is what he who stood calling meant by Sabbath when he said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.’

Oh, may you never forget that it is not you who create this kind of Sabbath in order to glorify God, but it is a gift of God to you in his grace that you may share in his riches.

That kind of Sabbath comes only as the fruit of grace and prayer!

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.180-82.

This particular meditation (#58 of Volume 1) is titled “This Is Why I Gave Them My Sabbaths” and is based on Ezekiel 20:12, “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.”

July 2019 “Tabletalk”: Faithfulness in the Little Things

The July 2019 issue of Tabletalk has been out a week or so and I have begun digging into its content. The daily devotions continue the life of David from 2 Samuel, while the theme this month is “Faithfulness in the Little Things,” a striking and significant subject.

Editor Burk Parsons gives us a fine introduction to the theme with his Coram Deo title of “God Is Faithful.” Here are a few of his thoughts:

…all Christians serve the Lord in noticeable ways—not just pastors. Whether we have official titles and roles or don’t possess a particular title in ministry (like most Christians), we are called to serve the Lord faithfully not just in the big things that people see but in the little things that few, if anyone, see. Life is made up, mostly, of little things: making dinner, washing dishes, talking to a neighbor, or changing a diaper. Most of our faithfulness to the Lord is in our striving to be faithful in the little things of life. We know that God always sees. He sees the big things we do, and He sees the little things we do, and as our heavenly Father He cares about all of them. He always sees and rewards (Matt. 25:21), as long as our motives are right and we are not practicing our righteousness before others in order to be seen and praised by them (6:1–4). God calls us to strive to be faithful in all of life, in the big things, the little things, and in all the in-between things, resting in the glorious truth that Jesus was faithful in everything. He obeyed every jot and tittle of the law, and He died on the cross for our unfaithfulness to Him. Our ultimate hope is not in our complete and utter faithfulness in everything but in the faithfulness of our God, who has called us to rest in Christ as we follow Christ by His grace and for His glory, as we live before His face, coram Deo.

The first featured article on this theme is by Dr. David Strain and titled “Our Call to Faithfulness.” He begins and ends by pointing us to the source and motive of all our faithfulness – God’s in Christ. Listen to how he ends his treatment of this gospel call to be faithful as God is:

Clearly, then, faithfulness entails the wise stewardship of the Word of God. It implies both diligence in work ethic and skill in opening up the truth whenever opportunity allows. This is what it means to be a faithful steward. But faithfulness is a ministry term applied to every Christian, not only to ordained ministers of the gospel. In 3 John 5–6, for example, the Apostle describes the practice of Christian hospitality as an act of faithfulness: “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church.”

The wonder of the biblical depiction of Christian faithfulness is that when believers hear at last the “well done, good and faithful servant” of our Master in whose house we have been servants, we will know—in ways we only glimpse and often overlook here—that all our faithfulness on earth was but the product of God’s faithfulness to us and the fruition of God’s faithfulness to Himself. No small part of the joy of the Lord into which we shall one day enter will be the discovery that Christ rewards us for the fruit of His own great work for us at the cross and in us by His Spirit. We will bow down and confess that we are unworthy servants, having done only our duty (Luke 17:10), but Christ will lavish on us His glory and welcome us into His presence with joy in the crowning act of covenant faithfulness. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).

Profitable reading once again. Find the rest of this article and many more on this topic at the link below.

Source: Our Call to Faithfulness | Tabletalk

The Wonder of Grace: What Is Salvation?

However, we might do well, first of all, to consider the general question: what is salvation? This question is by no means superfluous. For, on the one hand, on our answer to this question must needs depend our conception of the part grace has in our salvation; and, on the other hand, especially in modern times the truth concerning salvation is distorted and corrupted in more than one way.

Salvation is not the same as reformation, the improvement of man and of the world; it has nothing in common with the modern notion of the building of character. This modernistic conception recognizes, indeed, that man is not what he ought to be. There is something wrong with him and with the world he is making. Especially in our own times, now the whole imposing structure of human culture and civilization threatens to collapse, this is deeply felt. However, it is maintained that man is not inherently corrupt. He is fundamentally good. Bur he is in need of reform. We must apply ourselves to man’s reformation, to the building of his character, as well as to the improvement of his environment. And in this noble effort we must take Jesus as our example and turn to His teachings, especially to the Sermon on the Mount, for our program of reformation. If man only learns to follow in His steps and to apply His teachings to all his life and relationships, he will be saved. He will then learn to acknowledge that, like Jesus, so he, too, is the son of God; that God is the loving Father of all, and all men are brethren. And thus he will become a good, peace-loving creature, capable of making of the present world a kingdom of God in which righteousness shall dwell. Needless to say, in such a view of salvation there is no room for grace. Salvation is the work of proud man, not of God. And it is quite superfluous to prove that this human philosophy has nothing in common with the Biblical gospel of salvation.

However, it is not only in modernistic circles that one meets with a perverted presentation of the truth of salvation. On the contrary, also they who ostensibly preach the gospel of Christ, but in the meantime present the matter of salvation as something that ultimately depends for its realization on the will of man, distort the doctrine of sovereign grace. Salvation, according to this view, is something like a present that is all prepared and that is freely and graciously offered, but which one may either refuse or accept. Or it is like a kind invitation to some party or banquet, with which one may either comply or politely decline. So the sinner is offered salvation, chiefly consisting in escape from hell and entrance into heaven after this life, on condition that he will accept Christ. This salvation is all prepared for the sinner. In himself he is damned, worthy of eternal death. But Christ died for every sinner, and merited for all the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal glory.

So far it is all of grace.

And that the gospel is preached to sinners and this glorious redemption is offered them freely, that, too, is of grace.

But it is at this point that salvation as a work of divine grace and power ends. For beyond the merited redemption of Christ and the offered salvation, grace is not sovereign and efficacious: it is powerless to save and actually to deliver from the dominion of sin and death, except by the sinner’s consent. If the sinner only accepts the salvation that is offered to him, if only he will say, “I accept Christ as my personal Savior,” all will be well with him, and grace can proceed; but if he is recalcitrant and stubbornly declines the earnest invitation to be saved, grace can do nothing with him. Many a preacher does not hesitate openly and boldly to declare that God is powerless to save the sinner unless the latter gives his consent, and that Christ can do no more than He did unless the sinner permits Him to proceed with His work of salvation. Jesus is willing to save, but His willingness must suffer shipwreck on the rock of man’s contrary and refractory will. He stands at the door of the sinner’s heart and knocks; but the key of the door is on the inside, and the Savior cannot enter, unless the sinner opens the door.

From this arises that very common form of preaching that is erroneously called evangelical and that always reaches its climax in the well-known, extremely sensational “altar call” I say erroneously, for “evangelical preaching” is preaching of the gospel; and the true gospel never presents a powerless God or a Christ impotent to save. Since the grace of God is dependent on the choice of the sinner’s will, it follows that the persuasion of human language, of the voice of the preacher, pleading and begging, may assist him to make the right choice and induce him to let Jesus into his heart!

Thus Christ is travestied!

0, to be sure, salvation is deliverance from hell and damnation. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36). But, first of all, salvation is much more than the mere escape from punishment and hell and a check on the bank of heaven that is to be cashed after death. It is a wonderwork of the Almighty, Who quickeneth the dead and calleth the things that are not as if they were. (Romans 4: 17) It is a work in which God becomes revealed unto us in “the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1: 19, 20) It is a work no less divine, and even more glorious, than the work of creation. All that is required to make of the sinner, dead in sin, filled with enmity against God, cursing the Almighty and raising his rebellious fist in the face of the Lord of heaven and earth, walking in darkness and hating the light – to make of such a sinner a righteous and holy child of God, humbly asking what God wills that he shall do, filled with the love of God, and for ever singing His praises, and to place ,that sinner, thus redeemed and delivered, in living fellowship with the glorious company of all the redeemed and glorified sinners, so that they together constitute a church, a beautiful house of God, a holy temple in the Lord, to the praise of the glory of His grace in the beloved – all this belongs to the work, the mighty work of God that is called salvation!

Secondly, salvation by grace means that it is an exclusively divine work, absolutely free and sovereign, in which man has no part at all and which does not in any sense depend upon the choice of man’s will. Even as the work of creation is of God alone, which He accomplished without the cooperation of the creature, so the work of salvation is exclusively God’s work, in which man has no part whatever. Even as Adam lived and was an active creature, not in or before his being created, but by virtue of this marvelous work of God, so the sinner lives, and becomes positively active, so that he wills to be saved and embraces Christ, not in cooperation with God Who saves him but as a result of the wonder of grace performed upon him. Salvation by grace implies that grace is always first. True, “whosoever will may come,” but the will to come is not prevenient to grace but subsequent to it as its fruit.

Taken from chapter chapter 1, “The Idea of Salvation by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.11-14. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

PRC Archives/Offices/Library Project Update – July 2019


It has been a bit since we have updated you here on the archives addition and library renovation projects going on at the PRC Seminary, so on this Fourth of July holiday we will take the time to do so.

Priming the new wall between the library and the new addition (Mike VO).

One of the newly painted offices with its new window.

Tyler K doing some electrical piping in the ceiling of an office.

The finished ceiling and walls of the new archives room (2 images above).

Office ceiling grid finished

The new archives room and offices are coming along well, with the focus on the interiors now. The electrical rough-in has been completed, the walls and ceiling (in archives) have been painted, and the ceiling grid has been put in in the offices and hallway. The new windows (in the offices) were also recently installed, giving the rooms a more finished look and letting some natural light into the rooms.

On the outside, gutters have been installed around the west side of the new addition, window frames were put in, final grading has been done, and the trees and brush cut down last Fall have been cleaned up.


And the materials for the new roof over the library have arrived this past week too. Can’t get that on soon enough with all the rain we’ve had and the leaks we encountered this past year. Sometimes funny things show up above the ceiling when you start taking it down (image below). Powerful reminders of a leaky drain pipe (wondered what happened to that blue bucket!).

Since mid-May when the second semester ended, the focus has been on the library renovation. You may remember that the library resources were moved to other areas of the building and gutted – carpeting, ceiling tiles, lights, etc. The “new look” will bring the updates from the last seminary renovation (2012) to this final area of the building – new carpet, new lights, ceiling tiles, paint, and lots of custom wood-work. Plus, some new furniture – a new library work station, a patron work-station, and nicer seating with scattered study areas.


Out with the old – ceiling tiles and carpet…

and in with the new – lights, crown molding, and trim work.


A newly refinished student study carrel – beautifully crafted!

I am very excited about the updates in the library and the new archives room. And, of course, some professors are excited about their new offices. 🙂 If you are in the area, stop in and see the progress. It seems like a long was to go in seven weeks, but I am confident we will make it before school starts on August 26!

Published in: on July 4, 2019 at 8:35 PM  Comments (1)